Holding Israel accountable is a pre-requisite for achieving peace
by Ola Attallah
A number of Palestinian analysts and human rights activists agreed that holding Israel accountable for its actions among the international community is not only a pre-requisite to rebuilding Gaza but also to ensuring security, stability and the success of the peace process.
Many political and human rights activists in Palestine believe that the absence of accountability, when it comes to Israeli war crimes against the Palestinians, disrupt the efforts to have a successful peace process in the region. In their exclusive remarks to the Anadolu Agency, they emphasised the importance of holding Israel accountable before a peace process can be achieved.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, stated at the end of his trip to the Gaza Strip on Tuesday that he was committed to ending more than half a century of Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and that he was also committed to ensuring Israeli security.
In fact, Ban also said that he believed the way to ensuring peace in the region was to make sure that all humanitarian needs in Gaza were met and that this would help everyone work to resolve problems that could potentially escalate into something greater.
According to Talal Okal, a political writer at the Ramallah-based Ayyam newspaper, if the international community truly wants to provide peace and security to the people of the region they must also demand that Israel be held accountable for its war crimes.
“It is essential that the international community steps in and forces Israel to put an end to Israeli aggression as it must be held accountable for its actions. Without this sense of accountability, we will never see a fruitful political peace process and the catastrophic scenes that we have grown accustomed to will continue to unfold,” Okal added.
Okal emphasised that Israel refuses to halt its settlement project and it will not stop its confiscation of Palestinian land or Judaisation of Jerusalem and it will continue to hit Gaza if it does not begin to feel pressure from the international community. Moreover, Okal sees it as important that the international community openly recognise that Israel was the party that destroyed the Gaza Strip and is responsibly for the massacres that took place as a military institution.
Israel launched a war on the Gaza Strip on July 7, which killed 2,165 Palestinians and injured 11,000 others. During his visit to the Gaza Strip, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the United Nations has established a special commission’s inquiry to look into the war in Gaza and that it plans to “bring violators of international humanitarian law to justice”.
Ban stressed that it is largely unacceptable that the Gaza Strip is continuously destroyed and rebuilt by saying: “The politics of destruction followed by reconstruction followed by construction and deconstruction must stop”.
And yet, in order for the policy of construction/destruction to stop, Israel must be held accountable for its actions and its war crimes, according to Naji Sharab, a political science professor at Al-Azhar University in Gaza.
“Ban Ki-moon talks about peace in the region and he promises us that the United Nations will work on it but he does so without condemning Israel and without forming international commissions of inquiry that will hold perpetrators of war crimes accountable for their war crimes and for killing thousands in the Gaza Strip,” Sharab added.
Sharab continued: “The United Nations is asking of Gaza, the victim, to remain calm and to not react in any way to Israel’s aggression in order to provide Israel with a greater sense of security; however, what should be happening is that, Israel, the aggressor, is held accountable for its war crimes. All this talk of rebuilding Gaza and achieving peace is nothing more than a series of statements and wishful thinking.”
Issam Younis, director of the Mizan Centre for Human Rights, agreed with the idea that if the Untied Nations truly wants to apply human rights resolutions to the situation in Gaza, then Israel must be held accountable.
“If we want to achieve our goals for achieving both security and peace in the region, this outcome would require the use of international legal mechanisms that hold Israel accountable for its actions and put the country’s leaders on trial for its violations against the Palestinians and Gaza. Israel will continue to carry out more violations so long as it is not being held accountable for its actions,” Younis warned.
He called upon the Palestinian National Authority to sign the Rome Statute and to join the International Criminal Court (ICC) so that the ICC could, in turn, be able to consider and examine Israeli war crimes in the Palestinian Territories.
The International Criminal Court was established in 2002 as the first court that is designed to put international war criminals on trial. It is based in the Netherlands. The ICC is an independent body from the United Nations with 121 signatories as of July 1, 2012. Many countries have refrained from signing the court’s charter.
According to international jurists and doctors who have recently made their way to the Gaza Strip, “Israel is responsible for serious human rights violations against the Palestinian people, including the use of weapons to cut apart the bodies of those who were injured”.
While Israel denies the use of internationally banned weapons, the United Nation’s Mission for Truth, also known as the Goldstone Report because it is led by the Jewish South African Judge Richard Goldstone, found Israel guilty of committing “war crimes against Palestinian civilians during the 2008/2009 war in the Gaza Strip”. (T/P3/P2)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)